Cross Border Currency Exchange: The US-Mexico Border

The Background
A key feature of the international financial system over at least the last decades has been the large expansion of cross-border financial transactions. This expansion is very noticeable in border regions since people and businesses at both sides of the border try to benefit from advantages on one side or the other. Cross-border transactions have grown significantly and US northern and southern borders are no exception. .

The Fear
All types of Criminals – and terrorists too, around the world are also very active in the border regions; they use cash couriers as a major means of physically moving funds across borders in order to finance their illicit activities and to launder their ill-gotten gains. There have been many initiatives to facilitate the detection, investigation and prosecution of drug trafficking offences and serious crimes that involve the transportation of cash across borders; international anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism standards recommended by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are in place in most countries and this Best Practice Paper describe such standards. Another good Best Practice Paper was issue by the MENA FATF group.

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The Compliance Profession after the US 5 Million Thomas Haider proposed fine

The Background

According to news reports, FINCEN notified Thomas Haider, former Chief Compliance Officer of MoneyGram that he could be fined up to $5 million for compliance failures that resulted in the money-laundering fraud scheme where in November 2012 MoneyGram agreed to forfeit $100 million and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for aiding and abetting wire fraud and failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. .Tom Haider, who was the CO at the time, and his legal counsel are expected to meet with FinCEN officials to contest the fine, the news have also reported. Note: FinCEN announced on Dec 18,2014 that it had assessed a Civil Penalty of US 1 million and was seeking to bar him from the Financial Industry, see here: http://1.usa.gov/1xahywP .

According to court documents, MoneyGram processed thousands of transactions for its own agents known to be involved in an international scheme that defrauded tens of thousands of members of the U.S. public out of at least $100 million. MoneyGram profited from the scheme by collecting fees and other revenues on the fraudulent transactions from 2004 to 2009. More on this story here.. This proposed fine – and others – have caused a shift in prosecution of AML/BSA cases that is important to analyze.

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Access to Banking Services by Money Transfer Institutions

The problem

We can’t say that the access to banking accounts problem is new in the Money Transfer Industry, not in the USA or a number of other countries. It was one of the reasons why the NMTA was formed back in 1996, David Landsman, Executive Director, reminds us every now and then. So why is this a such an urgent issue in 2014? I think the answer is that in the last decade a large number of small money transfer companies, with very little capital and minimal compliance structures were the first to go, now is the medium sized, larger companies, well funded, with large investments in technology and compliance the ones that are feeling the brunt. What should the industry do?

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Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013

On February 27, 2014 at the Interamerican Dialogue in Washington D.C.  remittance expert Manuel Orozco presented his yearly analysis of the volume of remittances entitled “Current Perspectives on Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013” and a PDF version of his briefing can be viewed/downloaded at the end of this short note. The paper considers the possible impact of immigration reform in the US on remittances and on the lives of migrants.

In 2013, family remittances to the region experienced little growth for most of the major remittance recipient countries. This may be a byproduct of immigration controls and deportations, demography, regulatory constraints and a slow recovery from the recession. Remittances have not grown substantially from 2012 and the total volume to the region was 60 billion, slightly decreasing by 1%. Manuel divides the results for the year in three groups:

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Why Has the Level of Remittances to Latam Stagnated in 2013?

The Latin America Advisor, an excellent publication by the Interamerican Dialogue in Washington D.C. asked this question for its Feb. 6-19, 2014 issue as a preview of the release of Manuel Orozco’s document on remittances to the region that will be presented February 27, 2014 at the Dialogue. Overall remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean were flat in 2013 as compared to 2012. A few countries, including Bolivia, Honduras and Guatemala saw significant growth, while remittances decreased to countries including Mexico and Brazil. You can view/download this issue of the Latin American Advisor to read  Manuel Orozco’s insightful comments, as well as comments by Earl Jarret from the Jamaica National Building Society, Mario Trujillo, CEO of Dolex Dollar Express and Hugo Cuevas-Mohr of IMTC/Mohr World Consulting. 

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The power of Linkedin

Do you know?

Do you know that Linkedin has 259 million users and growing by about 38% per year? Do you know that 40% of members check in daily and 38% do it from their phones? Do you know that it had a 35% growth in traffic in the past year? And that it is responsible for 64% of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites?Do you know we have a great IMTC Linked in Group?

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Mobile Payments… 20% Of Global Transactions? Yes, we have to believe it.

The third Adyen Mobile Payments Index covering the period September to December 2013 was announced Friday, January 30th. The Index shows mobile payments accounted for 19.5% of all transactions worldwide in December, a growth of 55% year-over-year, up from 12.6% December 2012. The data shows tablets to be the preferred device for higher value transactions…

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